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What Is Body Shaming?

Fact: Making someone feel bad about their body is never OK. Find out how to spot body shaming – and how to deal with it…

What Is It?

Body shaming is a form of bullying and is anything that’s said or done to make you feel sad or upset about your body. It could be a hurtful, critical comment on one of your photos or a harsh remark on your appearance that makes you feel upset and uncomfortable.

Who Does It?

It could come from a stranger, a foe, a friend, or even your partner or a family member. It may be unintentional but still hurts. A thoughtless comment like, “I don’t think you have the right body shape for that dress…” can be unintentionally cruel and make you feel down about yourself.

Spotting Body Shaming

Sometimes body shaming is painfully obvious, leaving you in no doubt that you’ve just been body shamed. It can be tricky to spot, especially if it’s coming from a friend or family member who is unaware of the negative impact of their words. Sometimes, someone might try to disguise their criticisms of your body or looks as simply ‘friendly advice.’ This can make it confusing to spot. Be in no doubt – if someone is saying negative things about your body or is judging your looks, whether they are aware or not, they are body shaming you and that’s not acceptable.

Body Shaming Online

You have probably seen more than your fair share of body shaming online. Sadly, social media is rife with body shaming and some people seem to think that they have the right to comment and criticise other people’s appearances, especially those of celebrities. How many times have you seen nasty comments like, “Ugh, I hate her hair!” or “OMG, what does she look like?!” on a celebrity’s selfie? Probably too many times to count.

Body shaming can be extremely damaging and hurtful and its ok to  call it out when we see it. Be a social media hero and report body shaming if you spot it. Do your bit to lift others up instead of dragging them down by being kind and positive online.

Dealing With Body Shaming

If you’ve ever experienced body shaming then you will know how distressing it can be. It can make us feel upset, anxious and unworthy. In some cases, body shaming can even cause serious damage to our mental and physical health. Here are ways you can deal with it:

  • Tell someone you’ve been body shamed. You might feel nervous to speak up, or even ashamed, but sharing your experience and the pain of it with someone else is the best way to get support.
  • Block and report body shamers online. You can take screenshots of any abuse or negative comments you’ve received and show someone else. They can help you to report the body shamer and give you much-needed support.
  • Try to practice body positivity. Read our Why Don’t I Look Like That? guide for lots of practical steps you can take to learn to love the skin you’re in.
  • Focus on spreading body positivity wherever you can and make others feel better about themselves. Sharing your own experiences of body shaming might make others think twice before posting negative comments or making scathing remarks about someone’s appearance.

More help:

For advice on how to block and report on social media: https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/types-bullying/bullying-social-media/

To talk to a Childline counsellor in confidence: 0800 11 11 Read more about cyberbullying: https://ionpadel.com/for-me/bullying/cyber-bulling/cyberbullying-the-lowdown/

Curated by

Vicky Bird
Vicky is a Bacp accredited counsellor and supervisor in private practice in Hampshire. You can contact Vicky via Psychologytoday

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